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The AFGO Life Lessons and Roller-Coaster Adventures of Ami Ji in Turkey (part one)

Updated: Feb 19

As you may recall, I had rented a bungalow in Adrasan for a month. You may also recall that, even when grief came a-knocking, Grief and I were still hanging out in paradise. "Why then, Ami," you might ask, "would you leave Adrasan?"


Make some popcorn, my friend, and a cup of tea. I have a story to tell you.


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

  • Ami books a bungalow (for one month) in Adrasan, inadvertently takes a taxi the whole way there, and settles into her new digs

  • The new digs (in the mountains) and (Airbnb) host family are welcoming... calming, healing

Thursday, January 4

  • Ami rides a bicycle (provided by the Airbnb host family) ~1 km to Adrasan Bay and realizes that she is living in paradise

Friday, January 4, 2024

  • Ami meets a possible Retreat collaborator and finds a possible venue for holding Retreats

  • The laughing ducks are hysterical

Saturday, January 5, 2024

  • Ami meets and chats it up with two men while walking on Adrasan Bay. Ami is wanting a cappuccino and the two men agree to join her in a little cafe of their choosing. The three new compadres hang out in the cafe and talk.

  • A velvety Calico kitty jumps up onto Ami's lap and snuggles down for a nap.


During our chat, I learned that these two men live and travel in campers, that they are newly acquainted camper neighbors (here in Adrasan Bay), and that one of the men, Mujdat, travels with a bicycle and a motorcycle. When I heard the part about the motorcycle, time did a Scooby-Doo swirly-thing. All at once, time stood still, I felt my past love of motorcycles flood in, and I instantly desired and hoped to ride with this man in the future.


You may not have known that I love to be on the back of a motorcycle. I say "love" because my feelings about being on the back of a motorcycle are beyond liking it. My relationship with motorcycles is a love affair. I have had this love affair with bikes since I was seventeen.


Scooby-Doo swirly time portal...


It is September 1977. I am seventeen. I am starting my first year of University, in Tacoma, Washington, 3,000 miles away-from-home-for-the-first-time. I know one person at this new school far-far-from-home. His name is Bernie.


Bernie is also a first-year student and from Massachusetts. As far as we know, we are the only students (of any grade level) from the northeast corner of the country who will be attending this school far, far away, in the northwest.


We each arrive at University.


Being in a new place is stressful. The school's organizational glitches are stressful. Schoolwork is stressful. Meeting lots and lots of new people is stressful. Navigating a new culture is stressful. Monsoon weather is depressing.


One of the first things Bernie does is buy a motorcycle. When Bernie needs to destress, he goes out riding. Bernie equips his bike with a tall, padded sissy bar, for a rider in the back. I am that rider. I find that his stress relief strategy works for me as well.


Bernie and I go on a lot of rides. They are short rides, just to blow off stress. I sit on the bike behind Bernie, lean back (on the tall, padded sissy bar), feel my hair blowing wildly in the wind, and sing Me and Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin style, very loudly. Every time we ride, I breathe my soul back into me.


Scooby-Doo swirly time portal...


I am a teenager. There are four things that keep me sane throughout adolescence.

  • My dog, Silky. (I told you about my savior-best-friend beagle in another post)

  • Journaling. My 10th-grade English teacher Mr. Marshall requires his students write in a journal. It is the first time I am introduced to journaling, and the first time I receive positive and loving feedback about what I think and feel. Self-acceptance and Self-love begin to bud.

  • The book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The line: “...what is essential is invisible to the eye” becomes my credo.

  • The poem: Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay.


Renascence is at least a ten-minute read. There is a part of Renascence that I memorize:

I felt the rain's cool finger-tips

Brushed tenderly across my lips,

Laid gently on my sealed sight,

And all at once the heavy night

Fell from my eyes and I could see,—

A drenched and dripping apple-tree,

A last long line of silver rain,

A sky grown clear and blue again.

And as I looked a quickening gust

Of wind blew up to me and thrust

Into my face a miracle

Of orchard-breath, and with the smell,—

I know not how such things can be!—

I breathed my soul back into me.

Scooby-Doo swirly time portal...


It is late August 1977. I have arrived at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. I learn that there will be a school variety show. I know not how such things can be (only Great Wisdom knows why I do what I do)... I sign up to sing Me and Bobby McGee (on a large stage, in front of everyone at the school, who I do not know yet).


Bernie rides me on his bike onto the stage. I dismount, holding a boombox (with a cassette of Janis Joplin's Pearl, lined-up to start at Me and Bobby McGee when I hit the play button). I walk to the mic and hit the play button on the boombox. When there is instrumental music playing, I hold the mic to the boombox. When there is singing, I pull the mic away from the boombox and sing into the mic. Some might say I have a unique, Bohemian style.


Scooby-Doo swirly time portal...


I am an adult woman. I have been married and divorced. I have children. I attract friends with unique, Bohemian styles.


One unique Bohemian styled-person I befriend is David Parker. David Parker is 6' 8" tall. I call him "my little Redwood." Since David is a big guy, he drives a big vehicle and rides a big bike. I ride with him. We go on adventures throughout Vermont together. Years later, David is so affected by neuropathy that he needs to give up riding. I must give up riding with him.


There are more motorcycle stories. Lots more. But...


The Scooby-Doo swirly time portal is happening...


I am in Adrasan, Turkey. I have not been on a motorcycle for many years. I hear that this man I just met has a motorcycle. Something that has been waking up inside me sits up straight, fully alert and pays attention.


"You have a bike," I ask.

"Yes," he says, and invites me to ride with him.


There is obviously something happening. The (now) third-wheel man says: "When you two get married, I will send out the notice." Maybe this is a thing people say in Turkey. Maybe the third-wheel man saw something brewing that we (the motorcycle-man and I) did not yet see.


I learned that the motorcycle-man's name was Mujdat. It took me three days to both remember his name and to say it correctly. Within those three days we rode to Olympos. Olympos is not currently a city; it is an ancient site where a city once was. It is on the Mediterranean Sea.


Mujdat and I walked through the ruins. At one point, he kissed me. I let him.


We continued hiking through the ruins and out to the beach. We hiked along the beach and then, hiked up a mountain. We were on top of the world when Mujdat took this video...



The next day, we rode to a private bay on the other side of a mountain surrounding Adrasan Bay. Along the way, we stopped and hiked...




At the bay, we hiked into the woods and foraged for mushrooms. We brought the mushrooms back to Adrasan Bay and cooked them for supper.


The next day, we rode to the Sunday market and shopped for food to cook that night. At this point we have been hanging out for three solid days and nights.


Mujdat told me he would be leaving soon. Soon, I learned, was the next day. He invited me to go on a road trip with him in his camper. I decided to pack a small bag and travel with him. I would take a bus back to Adrasan when we got to Antalya.


Here, we are getting ready to leave beautiful Adrasan Bay, for our adventure...


On the road...


Our first stop was Phaselis. It was huge. Our hike barely touched a corner of the ancient city. It was not a place to rush through...















We hung out at a bay...



We hiked up a mountain...



"Second bay on the right" sounds a lot to me like second star on the right. I feel that Peter Pan is giving directions to Neverland.



There were stones being restored and organized...



And this one that I saw on the ground...


Our next road trip stop (the next day) was at Göynük Canyon. On the hike in, there were impressive art pieces basically made from sticks and stones...








It was impossible to capture on film the grandeur of the canyon, though One must try...



Yes, I got naked and walked into this (below) body of water. No, I am not posting a video of me doing this. Yes, it was icy cold! No, I did not stay in the water long enough to swim. Yes, it was worth it. I felt quite refreshed and tingly afterwards.


All along the hike up the mountain, there were signs of a zipline adventure. The zipline tour was not offered at this time of year. Still, it was intriguing to imagine where the zipline started and stopped along the way down the mountain, and what people had to do to get from one zip to the next.





Yes, that is a stress blister on my lower lip. Being in a relationship was stressful.


I had not been in a relationship since Captain Mike. That pretty much ended as soon as it started, and that was in 2012.


I had not wanted to be in a relationship. In a relationship I tend to lose myself. In a relationship, I cater to the other person at the expense of myself. I compromise myself right out of the picture.


Why I decided to now, all of a sudden, be in a relationship probably has a great deal of psychology behind it. I am sure we could spend quality time figuring out the why of it. But... let's not. Let's just say, I made a conscious choice to be in a relationship and I was trying really hard to make it work. Really hard. Hard enough for a stress blister to pop right out of my lower lip.


Mujdat and I made it to Antalya. I recovered my sparkly cap from the biased travel guide who had kept it for me. It was a long walk to meet up with him. It was a long day. The day did not end well. For three days, the day did not end well. My lip was not healing.


Currently, I am staying with my new friend, Oxana and her family. I will stay here until I must leave. Oxana wants me to stay forever.


Oxana is kind and generous, and her intuitive sense about my welfare is uncannily on target. On the first day we met, Oxana knew things were not good for me. She invited me to stay with her. I had no idea at that moment that, only two hours later, I would say "Yes" and move in. I am in a mountain range valley, by the sea, in a good place to recover.


The first morning here, before the sun rose, Oxana and I crossed two streets by foot to the sea. We did my "Five Body Yoga" routine with a man Oxana had met swimming three days earlier. The three of us were joined by a woman who I met two days ago, who is part of a group that Oxana exercises with on the beach. We finished our routine and, as the sun rose, we all walked through crashing waves, into the cool Mediterranean Sea and swam. It felt healing. At the time, I thought: "I will need to do this again and again." I have done it every day for two weeks.


I said I would not delve into the psychology of why I got into a relationship and yet, I am.


Loneliness and Grief

I am traveling solo. Though I am glad for that, traveling by myself does get lonely. Feeling lonely happens when I am cozy at home in Brattleboro, too. Actually, loneliness had become more frequent and more intense before I started traveling.


Over these past few years, I have lost the three main people I talked with whenever I needed my peeps. Captain Mike quietly drifted away. Partly, I think, because it was the natural final end of our relationship. Partly, I think, because of the grief he has been experiencing since his dad's death. Then my Daddy-O died. And then Jessica died. I am going to take a break here to honor the emerging lump in my throat.


Three deep breaths. Tears. Cry out loud. Breathe. Ok.


I am not seeking sympathy. I am processing. And I am grieving. This heightened loneliness seems to be another part of the grieving process. It is good to acknowledge: this is loneliness - this is grief.


I do not know the culture in Turkey. Sometimes I meet kind people and we become friendly. Sometimes they invite me to visit. Sometimes, when I text (on WhatsApp), "Yes, I would like to visit you now," they do not text back. Sometimes they say: "Mi casa es tu casa," then say "It's not a good time." Sometimes practitioners or translators or interested people want to create or be part of a Retreat with me, then I do not hear from them again.


Sometimes, it is difficult finding a toilet. And then there is everything else waiting to be found. Sometimes transportation from one place to another is expensive or confusing or long-winded. Sometimes my brain is not making clear, quick, or effective choices. Sometimes I hit blind spots. Sometimes, there is no one to pick up the slack when I hit my blind spots, and I am a deer in headlights. Sometimes I want a friend.


Sometimes I am exhausted and just want a bath or movie or bed, or all of the above. Up until recently, I wanted to have these things on my own, alone.


Challenges

I am traveling solo. Though I am glad for that, traveling on my own does sometimes feel extremely challenging. Often, I do not know what time it is, where I am, where I am going, or how to get there.


One reason this happens has to do with the navigating systems I am using (or not using). To get around, most people use maps, whether the old-fashioned paper kind that you fold up, or an online navigating system, like Google Maps. My brain never latched on to using paper maps. Now my brain does not easily latch on to all the great ways to navigate with a mobile phone.


iPhone

Ah, the modern mobile phone. The mobile phone is a modern miracle, unless you do not know how to use it. Captain Mike once said (of "the smart phone") "your phone should never be smarter than you." I find that the mobile phone is a modern miracle until it stops working.


I have an iPhone 6S. Even though the iPhone 6S was released (brand new) September 2015, it is literally considered a relic. In eight years Apple time my phone has become an antique.


My iPhone 6S no longer updates to the newest operating system. In Malta, I was unable to download the App to track the bus system in real time (that Giulia and Eugene recommended I download and use) because I did not have (nor could I get) the needed operating system.


My iPhone 6S charges slowly and the battery runs down quickly. The outcome of combining these two factors is poor. It is a very bad combo. Sometimes my phone is dying as I am following Google Maps "home." That happened in Istanbul. I felt moderately hysterical.


I have also had the experience (more than once) when my charging cord no longer works, and there is no local store where I can purchase a new one. Sometimes, though an international phone plan sounds great, having an international phone plan does not ensure that my phone will connect... to anything.


And then there is this...


Sometimes, such as when I have been walking for too long and want to rent that electric scooter sitting right there in front of me, I can not. My phone does connect. I am able to download the electric scooter company's App. The problem is...


During the application process, I am told that a code has been sent to me via SMS. I am told that I must retrieve and then type the code into the designated underlined area. A timer begins to count the seconds down. The code never shows up. Or, a code shows up in a text, long after the allotted time has expired. This is so freaking frustrating that one might think I tried once and gave up. I did not give up. I kept trying. I have attempted to rent at least four company's electric scooters. I have not once succeeded. I believe this eternal failure has to do with the inadequate international phone plan.


By the way, if you are wondering (as I wondered) if SMS is different than regular old "texting," it is not. SMS is texting.


Time

Often, I do not know what time it is. If my phone is working this is not an issue. When the phone is not working and when it is a cloudy day, I am not on top of time. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. I think you can work out how this effects the larger picture of being challenged while traveling.


Sometimes, I think anything to do with keeping time or being organized (especially via technology) does not work in my energetic field. It is like the energetic field scrambles both my brain and technological device. I will go so far as to say that this is why I do not wear a watch. Wrist watches stop working when I put them on. This is also why, in my home in Brattleboro, Vermont, you will not find a clock on the living room wall. Every living room wall clock I have owned has stop working. One clock actually flew off the wall and crashed onto the floor. The energetic field is badass serious about this.


Place

Often, I do not know where I am. Ima chalk this up to unfamiliarity. Feeling like a stranger in a strange land is real.


The names of places in a new area are, of course, unfamiliar. On top of that, I am unfamiliar with how all the names fit together. In this area I am currently in, there is Antalya. And there is Adrasan. Adrasan is part of Antalya. Adrasan is also part of Kumluca, which is part of Antalya. I am just beginning to understand the nuances of town, district, area, and so on.


It is really no different than how the States are divided up. When referring to a place in my familiar part of the world, there is the name of the town or city, the district or county, the state, the region or area within the USA, and so on.


I was born in the city of Boston and raised in the town of Peabody. Peabody is in Essex County. Peabody is a suburb of Boston. Peabody and Boston are in the state of Massachusetts. Massachusetts is in the northeast corner of the United States. This region of the USA is also called New England.


When I go home in April, I will go to the town (currently) called Brattleboro. Brattleboro is in Windham county. People describe Brattleboro as being in "the southeast corner" of Vermont. Brattleboro is referred to being in "the tri-state area" because Brattleboro, Vermont borders New Hampshire and western Massachusetts. This area is also part of New England.


I find that people in Turkey know very few states and cities in the USA. In the same way, many people in the USA probably know very little about Turkey. I am one of those people.


The "American" reference that seems universal in Turkey is "New York" (meaning New York City). What I am realizing is that it is not common knowledge that NYC is a city in the (much larger) state of New York. "New York, New York" must sound ridiculous and redundant.


I think that most Turks do not have a firm grasp on the fact that there are 52 states in the United States. No one I have met yet understands me when (after asking "Where in America are you from?") I say "Vermont."


In the same way that Turks do not know America and Americans do not know Turkey, I do not know Turkey. I realize I already said that. It is worth saying again.


When I got to Antalya, it was to check out Olympos. I did not know that Olympos is not a town or city, it is an ancient site. I did not know that what I really wanted to seek out was the town closest to Olympos, Çıralı. When I typed Olympos into Airbnb, I found Adrasan. When I first arrived in the "neighborhood" of Adrasan, I was mighty confused. People from the states asked, "Where are you, Ami?" I said, "Somewhere in Turkey..."


Language

Here in Turkey, I do not know the language.


As much as I would like to pick up this new language, I am not doing a great job of it. After over two months in Turkey, I know very few Turkish words. Even with the words I know, sometimes I forget them or mix them up. Sometimes I mix up merhba (hello, hi) and menemen (a tomato-based breakfast dish). I want to say günaydın (good morning) but I am easily confused by how it sounds to me like "good night." Most of the time, I do not know what time of day it is (until it is dark) so I stick with the greeting "merhba." Then there is İyi geceler (good night). That last phrase has a whole lot going on. I have not even tried to say that to people. Sometimes I mean to say "hello" and I say teşekkürler (thanks, in gratitude). Even when I remember a word, I am told I sound like a foreigner. Sometimes I am told not to speak. Ouch.


I was told yesterday not to say teşekkürler (thanks), because of my accent. I was told to say "teşekkür ederim" (thank you). When I repeated the phrase, I saw the glow on my teacher's face. A minute later, having forgotten it (as I do), my teacher basically said "Do not bother. When you are with me, I will talk."


I will work on remembering teşekkür ederim. That was good feedback. Being basically told "Do not speak" was not good.


Relationship Drama

Honestly, I thought I was done with being in or wanting to be in a relationship. Even though I experience loneliness and have weak spots, I feel more alive and more authentic on my own. I have made getting-to-know, accept, and love myself my top priorities. Knowing, accepting, and loving myself makes me feel grounded and peaceful. Being on my own, I feel the freedom to open my heart as wide as it is.


Why would I want to open the door to compromising myself, to belittling myself to make someone else feel bigger, to making someone else's needs more important than my own?


And yet, I opened that door.


Until it closed.


While being told not to speak (for the third time, three days in a row), I started to experience a panic attack. I witnessed myself having a panic attack, stepped back, and made the decision to leave.


I am breathing.


Giving and Receiving Kindness

Mujdat and I were walking along the seacoast here in Antalya, and saw a 50+ aged group of adults exercising together on the beach. From up on the boardwalk, I started following along. Eventually, I bounced down the steps to the beach and joined their circle.


I learned that this diverse group from different countries, who spoke different languages, meet at that same spot for one hour, 08:30 - 09:30, Monday through Saturday, and that different people spontaneously lead the group.


I asked if I could join them the next day. I asked if I could (at some point) lead a group. They asked me if I would lead the group the next day.


The next day, I led the group. We did what I am now calling "Five Body Yoga." Mujdat, who I was referring to as my "boyfriend" translated my intro. For the rest of the class, I used sounds to signal changes. I breathed full, loud breaths, and made lots of releasing sounds. We ended with a kind of cross between laugh yoga and a Balinese Monkey Chant.


After we were done, many in the group wanted to talk with me and hug me. I felt in my element. One Ukrainian woman asked if I would come live with her. My "boyfriend" translated. She added me to her WhatsApp and we (the three of us) made plans to meet later, at 16:00 (4 pm). How did she know that I would need her then?


By 15:00 (3 pm) my "boyfriend" who I had been traveling with in his camper, once again (for the third day in a row) felt frustrated about something, blamed me, told me not to speak, and ended by telling me to leave. Instead of letting him cool off and talking through what had happened (this time) I packed my things and texted my new (Ukrainian-Turkish) friend.


Oxana came to the parking lot where the camper was. She firmly held me, took my bags, and walked me to her apartment five blocks or so away.


Oxana speaks Ukrainian and Russian. She speaks very little English. With very little common language between us, without me saying a word, Oxana clearly communicated that we are strong women and do not need men who are basically weak. She is a dynamo. On many levels, I needed her at that moment.


I am now in Oxana's apartment. Oxana's 15-year-old son Efe and her 84-year-old mother Tatiana also live here. Efe speaks 4 languages, including English. We have already had a few long and interesting conversations.


When I first walked in, Tatiana motioned me to sit next to her on her bed where she had been lying down. She looked at me with so much emotion, hugged me and cried. I broke open and bawled. There was no common language except emotion and heart. She was all broken heart.


I asked Efe later why his Babushka had cried when I first arrived. He told me that it is just how mothers are.


When Efe leaves, he tells me. When he comes back home, he tells me. I made comment of this and he said, "You are a mother. You care about such things."


This is my home.




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"❤️All you need is love.❤️"

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"❤️All you need is love.❤️"

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